By reason or by force. Documentary on Santa Teresa Settlement Participatory Evaluation (Chile)

One of EvalParticipativa’s main aims is to share evaluation experiences that have not been shared before and learn from them. Another aim is to make public stories of lived experiences, struggle and social organisation which often go unnoticed by society even though they exist right under its nose. It is our great pleasure to share this documentary “By reason or by force”, an initiative which fulfils both these objectives.

It relates to an experience promoted by TECHO, an organisation which works in 19 Latin America countries which seeks to overcome the poverty experienced by millions of people living in informal settlements through the collaboration of inhabitants with young volunteers.

The evaluative experience

In collaboration with Focelac and PETAS, TECHO carried out five participatory evaluations in Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, Paraguay and Ecuador in 2019. The aim of these evaluations was to discover how well the Working Groups function as an intervention strategy and to analyse their strengths and weaknesses from the community’s perspective. The Working Groups are a space for community organisation and collaboration where decisions are made and initiatives created that improve housing and living conditions in every community where TECHO works. This is where community halls, paved streets, skills courses, emergency housing and other projects, prioritised by the communities, become a reality.

In each country, the entire evaluative process benefited from the participation of the community’s main stakeholders. The opinion of those who live in the area and make up the community organisation was central in retelling the intervention story; defining evaluation questions and analysis criteria; and designing specific mechanisms and tools for each context. The Working Group evaluation was useful for revealing the strengths and weaknesses of this intervention strategy from the perspective of the community stakeholders.

The audiovisual project

Throughout 2019, we called for participatory evaluation experiences from across the region. From the examples we received, fifteen were chosen to participate in a gathering held in Quito, Ecuador and one was chosen to be used in this audiovisual project.  One of the criteria set for choosing the case study was that the reality documented should be representative of the rest of the region. As we know, Latin America is one of the most urbanised and unequal regions of the world, where 104 million people live in popular settlements. In our region, one in four urban dwellers live in poor conditions in shanty towns, slums or settlements.  While they are not invisible, they have been hidden away and these areas only survive through their own efforts while suffering constant violations of their rights and having their capacity for resilience tested to its limits.

The documentary was made as part of the Santa Teresa settlement Working Group’s evaluation framework in Santiago de Chile. It was filmed with the support of PETAS, Focelac and professionals from the film, music and communication sectors who were invited to participate.

“By reason or by force” takes us to San Bernardo, an informal settlement on the outskirts of Santiago de Chile. Here, as in another five hundred communities in Latin America and the Caribbean, TECHO works to make the inhabitants the protagonists of their area’s transformation, through volunteer and community collaboration. Through the personal testimonies of those who live in the area, the documentary narrates experiences of community organisation, struggle and hope.

This recording has prioritised the voice and testimony of those who live in the area and who describe the reality of life in the settlements from their lived experience. The documentary has the option of subtitles in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

The crew and production

The final result of this audiovisual product is, without a doubt, due to team work. The documentary production team brought together people from different places and realities with different backgrounds and specialities. The experience of this project has taught us that when we work in collaboration, we can combine our skills and enhance our efforts so that obstacles can be overcome and the desired results achieved.

We would like to thank all those who in one way or another have contributed to making this documentary. We would especially like to thank DEval and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for their support. Here you can see the documentary’s production team members.


Here you can see the documentary TRAILER

The documentary will premiere on July 24, 2020. You will be able to watch the FILM here.

Greetings from EvalParticipativa’s team!


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